Birmingham vs. Liverpool: Five Liverpool Players To Watch
The transfer window is shut and the international break behind is us.
After their first league win of the campaign v West Brom, the Reds look forward to a busy September that kicks off with a visit to St. Andrews and a strengthened Birmingham City.
Birmingham proved to be tough opponents for all of the Big Four last season, earning draws with each and finishing an unexpected ninth. Looking to build on that in the 2010-11 season, Birmingham had a busy summer adding Ben Foster from Manchester United ,and Arsenal old boy, Alexander Hleb (among others).
Liverpool's new boss Roy Hodgson had a busy summer himself, and the Reds look certain to improve on last years disappointing seventh-place finish. Along with holding on to the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, Hodson added some much needed fresh blood by picking up Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Danny Wilson, Raul Meireles, and Paul Konchesky.
With Birmingham looking to snag another point or three off Liverpool, and Liverpool needing another win to keep their season on track, Roy will no doubt be looking to some of his new faces to make an immediate impact as well as his core of stars to step up.
Here's five Liverpool players to keep an eye on when the action kicks off Sunday.
No. 5: Paul Konchesky
Will one of Roy Hodgson's Fulham favorites prove to be the answer to Liverpool's left-back conundrum? Fans will be hoping to see a solid performance from Konchesky after making the move north from London.
Should he get the start, asserting himself and being an instant rock in the much troubled position will go a long way toward tightening up Liverpool's defense and easing the minds of many a fan on Merseyside.
No. 4: Ryan Babel
Will this finally be the season that Ryan Babel fulfills the undeniable potential that saw him make the $11.5 million move from Ajax in 2007?
Linked with a move to numerous clubs throughout the summer, Babel has stayed on and will be looking to make the impact he never really made under Rafa Benitez.
Reportedly being told by Hodgson that when he is on the pitch it will be playing up top, it seems to be now or never for Babel to silence the doubters and prove his worth.
Add on Liverpool failing to add another world class striker to the squad, and Fernando Torres still not 100 percent, it would seem to some that Babel has until January to prove he has the goals in him.
No. 3: Raul Meireles
Another new face that fans are hoping could be a catalyst to launch Liverpool back into the top four and Champions League football this season, Raul Meireles joins the Reds for $14 million from FC Porto on the back of an impressive World Cup.
Seen as a direct replacement for Barcelona-bound Javier Mascherano, Meireles brings many of the same defensive qualities as Mascherano, and some would say much better distribution of the ball.
Taking on Liverpool's No. 4, fans will hope Meireles fairs much better than the last man to wear the shirt, injury prone Alberto Aquilani, and can become a solid pillar breaking up play in the midfield.
A natural box-to-box player, Merieles also has no problem sliding forward to knock in a goal or two, sending sixteen for club and eight for country into the back of the net.
No. 2: Lucas
A favorite of Rafa Benitez, it would seem the much criticized midfielders days in the starting 11 could be numbered.
With Christian Poulsen and Raul Meireles both seemingly occupying the space Lucas likes to find himself in, he will have to fight harder than ever to keep his place and see playing time outside of the Europa League and the subs bench.
But a dog is at its most dangerous backed into a corner.
Expect Lucas to fight harder than usual and try to lock down the midfield, as well as his place as Hodgson's first pick for important games.
No. 1: Fernando Torres
And of course.
Fernando Torres's winner v West Brom was the first goal since March for Liverpool's star man, and after bagging two more during Spains Euro 2012 qualifier, it would seem Torres is edging closer to that top form that gives defenders throughout the world nightmares.
Committing himself to the Reds after months of speculation, Torres remains the only real world class striker on the roster. A top four finish and return to the Champions League hinges greatly on him staying fit and in form.
A meeting with Manchester United at Old Trafford is lurking just seven days after the fixture with Birmingham, and fans will be hoping to see a full 90 minutes of Fernando at his best.